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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


the geologic features resembling gargoyles guard over beautiful wildflower displays. These geologic features resembling gargoyles guard over beautiful wildflower displays. Photo by Jennie Haas.

Sierra onion. Large patches of wildflowers grow in profusion on volcanic soils. Sierra onion (Allium campanulatum). Photo by Jennie Haas.

Leichtlin's mariposa lily. Leichtlin's mariposa lily (Calochortus leichtlinii) makes a showy display. Photo by Jennie Haas.

Trail of the Gargoyles

Forest: Stanislaus National Forest

District: Summit Ranger District

Description: At the height of the summer flowering period, the Trail of the Gargoyles offers a wonderful variety of classic Sierran wildflowers among impressive geologic features. Lupins, mule’s ears, Sierra onion, Leichtlin’s mariposa lily, spreading phlox and sulphur buckwheat are among the showy plants to be found.

There are two hiking trails, the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail, with numbered stops where the geologic features are interpreted in an informative guide available at the trailhead or the Summit Ranger District Office. Both trails are rated as easy hiking, with several moderately steep portions. Total trail distance is about 1.5 miles. Elevation at the trailhead is approximately 7,400 feet.

Viewing Information: The peak bloom for wildflowers at this site takes place in early July.

Safety First: Good walking shoes or boots are a must. Avoid getting too close to the cliffs for safety and also to prevent erosion of the delicate and loose soils. Rattlesnakes are sometimes found among the rocks.

Directions: Take Highway 108 east of Pinecrest to Herring Creek Road. Turn right and follow Herring Creek Road for about 6 miles. Turn left at the Gargoyles sign and proceed a short distance to the parking area at the trailhead.

Ownership and Management: USDA, Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest.

Closest Town: Pinecrest, Tuolumne County, California.